Court Coronavirus Information

Court Operating Plans 

Re-Certification Required to Continue In-Person Proceedings on or After 1/1/21

December 31, 2020

Template for Re-Certification of In-Person Operating Plans – Deadline extended to January 11

As detailed in the last update, OCA updated its Guidance for All Court Proceedings During COVID-19 Pandemic on December 17 to require local administrative district judges (LADJs) and presiding judges of municipal courts (MPJs) to re-certify their operating plans to include: 1) after consultation with the local public health authority, whether local pandemic conditions are conducive to holding in-person hearings and 2) to identify the criteria courts will use to determine when to conduct in-person hearings. Based upon feedback from LADJs and MPJs, OCA and the regional presiding judges (RPJs) have developed the attached template for the re-certification. The RPJs have approved a template and suggest that no modifications to it be made. Should a LADJ or MPJ wish to modify the template to make it more restrictive, the LADJ or MPJ should notate any changes to expedite consideration of the changes. Changes which are inconsistent with the template will likely be rejected as inconsistent with the requirements of the Supreme Court’s Emergency Orders and OCA Guidance.

To provide additional time for LADJs and MPJs to submit the re-certification, the deadline for submission has been extended to January 11. Judges whose LADJ or MPJ have not submitted a re-certification by January 11, 2021, and had the plan acknowledged in writing from the RPJ are not permitted to hold in-person hearings on or after that date until such re-certification is submitted and acknowledged. The extension does not alter the Supreme Court’s Emergency Order or OCA Guidance that requires judges to use all reasonable efforts to conduct proceedings remotely.

Courts should also be aware that the re-certification does not:

  • Affect the ability to conduct jury trials or grand jury proceedings as those proceedings are covered by separate requirements (see pp. 2-3, 6-9 of OCA’s Guidance linked above which require, among other things, a separate jury operating addendum, all jury trials to be approved by the LADJ and RPJ, and consultation with the local public health authority not more than 5 days before the trial is scheduled to commence);
  • Affect proceedings where one party appears in person due to a lack of ability to participate remotely, a need to provide fingerprints or be taken into custody, etc, but where other participants participate remotely;
  • Permit judges to conduct in-person hearings contrary to the Supreme Court’s Emergency Orders or OCA Guidance, which require that judges use all reasonable efforts to conduct proceedings remotely.